A call for "strong" multimodal research in institutional theory

Tammar B. Zilber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


How can we take multimodalities (the discursive, material, spatial, visual, emotional, embodied, etc.) of institutions seriously? In contemplating the implications of the "multimodal turn" (broadly defined) for institutional inquiry and theory, I first situate it within its intellectual current in the social sciences more broadly. I then use three ethnographic vignettes from Israeli high-tech conferences, all centering on "place" (as a - presumably first and foremost - geographical and material reality) to highlight the shortcomings of a "weak" multimodal approach and the promise of a "strong" one. Finally, I suggest ways to capture multiple modalities within an integrated account and discuss the challenges entailed in an institutional inquiry undertaken to acknowledge, and conceptualize, non-linguistic realities.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)63-84
Number of pages22
JournalResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
My thinking in this chapter benefited much from comments made by participants at "The 2nd International conference: Visuality, Materiality, Multimodality" held at the Copenhagen Business School on 22-23 September 2016. Thanks to Gazi Islam, Gregoire Croidieu, and the editors of this volume for their friendly and developmental review of this chapter. Special thanks to Yehuda Goodman for the continuous discussion of the ideas expressed here. Writing was supported by the Recanati Foundation and the Halbert center, both at the School of Business of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2018 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.


  • Multimodality
  • Place
  • Space
  • Strong and weak multimodal approaches


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